Ok, so I had an April Fool’s blog all set to go, but thought it too cliched. So here’s an even bigger internet cliche, commentary on ridiculous album covers, starting from the days of vinyl (when it was a necessity for listening to music, not ironic hipster gold) and working up to some more current ones. So why bother Trav? Because you haven’t seen my witty remarks on cracked.com or Seanbaby, have you? Oh, so now you’re a jerk for asking? Yes. Anyway, here are a few that are real head-scratchers. You’ve probably seen these all before, so boo hoo. Lolcats always has new material.
First bizarre album cover:
The Scorpions: Animal Magnetism (1980)
If you’re a veteran of ridiculous album cover browsing, or you’re old enough to remember, you know just about every Scorpions album cover has some kind of bizarre sexist tilt to it. So this is hardly shocking. It’s real life trying to one-up Spinal Tap, and the Scorpions succeed. But this cover in particular makes no sense and just seems thrown together at a deadline no matter how you slice it.
Ostensibly, it’s a woman and her faithful doberman, enjoying some jeans and blouse-clad yoga on the beach in the morning, being approached by a khaki-corduroy wearing man who’s sporting a bottle of balsamic vinegar, that I would guess he’s not afraid to use. I suppose there’s some allusions to implied oral sex and maybe a degrading message about comparing a woman to a dog, but since this isn’t a Rush Limbaugh spoken word album I’m more inclined to believe the Scorps really didn’t care, as long as it was ridiculous. Mission accomplished.
Next bizarre album cover:
The Beatles: Yesterday and Today (1966)
So the year was 1966, and the Beatles were tired of the same old not-making-people-vomit-upon-first-site album covers. So, with the music listening world ripe for some “black comedy” and an anti-war message that no one was sure to get without being told, the Beatles came up with album cover that GWAR might have rejected for being a bit too offensive. I know if you’re a young buck, you might be looking at this and wondering what the big deal is. But try to put it in its proper context. This would be like the cover of Justin Bieber’s next album picturing him relaxing in a tub full of mutilated kittens, only it’s 46 years ago; movies could be banned for using the f- word, interracial marriage was illegal in many states, and abortion was illegal in all of them (or as Republicans like to say, “utopia”).
So yea, America wasn’t quite ready for this type of satirical “humor” coming from the clean-cut darlings of Ed Sullivan. Oddly enough however, the record label suits seemingly had no problem with it, until individual record shop owners started sending back the album, because, well.. yea. So the 4 lads were forced to release the album with another boring, tame cover that I won’t bother linking to, because, well I just told you why. As the sixties got a little more weird and accepting, they would toy with abstract and original album cover ideas like Sgt. Pepper’s and the White Album. But the dismembered baby parts and guts is little more than a rock n roll history footnote. And a reminder that these guys weren’t necessarily the smartest around.
Crosby Stills & Nash: Live it Up (1990)
It’s rare when a band member will go on record about how badly misguided an album cover was. But David Crosby has been pretty open about his mistakes in recent years, and my god has he made a lot, with this album cover being no exception. Sometimes little more needs to be said, so I won’t say much. If I had to guess at what we’re looking at here, I’d say CSN was trying to convey something about technology and phalluses. But it’s probably just bad acid trip nonsense, as is most of the music from the album. That’s another thing about the 80s (1990 gets included by approximation). It seemed every decent band/artist from the 60s was obliged to release a fucking terrible album or 3. i.e. I don’t care what music critics say, David Gilmour’s “About Face” (1984) was a piece of turd. When you’re way better than Phil Collins, you don’t need to try to sound like him, no matter how many more albums he’s selling. But that’s another blog for another time.
And now, for something completely different:
Cannibal Corpse: Tomb of the Mutilated (1992)
Ok, so I am deviating a bit with something that’s supposed to be more shocking, for your viewing pleasure, because I can add a personal anecdote. When I was playing bass for Nothing Rhymes With Orange from 2003 to 2008, our regular gig was at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale. At the time, I can safely say we were probably the best indie-rock group in Miami. However, that’s kind of like bragging about being on the best semi-pro ice hockey team in Mexico. There is virtually no indie-rock scene there (at least as of 2008 when I left), so who cares? Anyway, our singer was notoriously picky about what kind of reverb to use. So the resident sound guy was cycling through some presets during a sound check once, and he found one to everyone’s liking. He laughed and let us know it was the exact custom reverb used by the singer from Cannibal Corpse. Now maybe you haven’t heard Cannibal Corpse, but from the album cover above, you can probably guess they are not indie-rock. And in hindsight, the story is way less funny or relevant if you’re not me, so sorry for wasting your time.
Anyway, I think there’s a sentient point to this album cover, and the boys from “Corpse” may have been sending a prophetic message about current entertainment mediums. I think the message here is, if cunnilingus is no longer arousing to you unless it is being performed by decomposing bodies chained up in some sort of Satanic dungeon ritual, you have watched far too much internet porn.
Bonus bizarre insert cover:
Megadeth: Youthanasia (1994)
I never really understood what was happening in this shot, but it looks like something has pissed off the guys on the left and right, and Dave is holding them back from doing something stupid they’ll regret, like endorsing Rick Santorum for President.
And to be inclusive:
Trick Daddy: http://www.Thug.com (1998)
This may come as a shock to you, reader, but I am not a huge hip-hop fan. In fact, most everything I know about hip-hop I learned from my longtime friend Pierre, who is approximately 10x whiter than me, but loves hip hop approximately 50,000x as much. This is not to say I dislike hip-hop, and in the right context, like mixed with good riffs like Rage Against The Machine, I’m into it. But the straight hardcore stuff, nahh it never really did it for me.
I include this one because this is about the time I stopped caring enough to keep asking Pierre questions about hip-hop. So for me this kind of signifies the end of an era. If I wasn’t a lazy fuck, which I am, I would hit the Internet Wayback Machine and see if the domain “www.thug.com” was in use in 1998, and if so, if it belonged to Trick Daddy. If it did, I have to give “mad props,” despite how asinine this album cover is. Also, I’m not sure if Pierre owns this album, but if he does, I will taunt him mercilessly.